With Columbia University”s Board of Trustees expected to accept Lee Bollinger as the successor of retiring President George Rupp tomorrow, the University of Michigan must now begin looking for its 13th president.

Paul Wong
Bollinger

The University of Michigan Board of Regents has not announced how or when it will initiate the search for a new president, University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said yesterday.

The regents have discussed convening before their scheduled Oct. 19 meeting to get the process under way.

Bollinger was in Florida for a speech yesterday and is scheduled to travel to New York City today for the trustees meeting, Peterson said.

Law School Dean Jeffrey Lehman, who chaired the presidential search committee that brought Bollinger to the University in 1996, said the regents should consider how they want the process to work and decide what kind of leader they would like to see at the helm of the University before appointing a search committee.

“The constitution of Michigan gives complete authority over the conduct of presidential searches to the democratically elected Board of Regents,” Lehman said. “Traditionally the Board has adopted a process that is inclusive and participatory.”

Lehman outlined the three stages the search process took in 1996. There were town meetings across the state of Michigan, followed by the search committee”s submission of a list of possible candidates and a shorter list of recommendations. The final phase was a selection process from a pool of four finalists.

Lehman said the regents have complete freedom to conduct the search in the way they see fit, and the selection of Bollinger”s successor may follow a different process than the last search.

The University”s second-highest academic post is also vacant. Provost Nancy Cantor left the University to become chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign this summer. The provost search committee has not said how Bollinger”s departure will affect the search or any plans to alter the process.

Bollinger”s departure complicates the provost”s search because candidates would be hesitant to commit to the University if they didn”t know who they would be serving under, said University of Hartford President Walter Harrison, who was the University of Michigan”s vice president for University relations under Bollinger and former President James Duderstadt.

Duderstadt, like Bollinger, announced his intention to leave in the midst of a search for a new provost, which prompted the regents to suspend the provost search until a president was selected.

University Vice President and Secretary Lisa Tedesco has been serving as interim provost since Sept. 6.

Lehman said he is confident the University will function normally while its top academic posts remain unfilled.

“This is a very similar situation, and the University did fantastically well (last time). The University moved forward really without missing a beat,” he said.

Harrison shared Lehman”s optimistic outlook.

“I don”t think that things slowed down,” he said. But, he added, “you don”t see bold new initiatives.”

University Deputy General Counsel Liz Barry said Bollinger”s departure will not affect the course of the lawsuits challenging the University”s admissions policies. A hearing on both the Law School and LSA cases is scheduled to be heard Oct. 23 by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

“President Bollinger set us on a great course in terms of defining the affirmative action litigation and that course is now set, so I don”t think it will change,” Barry said. “Leadership at every level the regents, the executive officers and the deans has a commitment to diversity on this campus.”

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